Tuesday, February 15, 2011

About blogging

Since I am actually using a blog, I decided that it would be interesting to talk about blogging here on the actual blog. I was already a fan of using blogs in educational setting before taking this class, and am learning even more ways in which it can be useful in the classroom, which is great. I think a big part of the reason for why I like blogs is that I like using journal writing to help get students writing in a way that is more open so they can approach it in ways that work for them. I feel that blogging takes journal writing to the next level because it allows interactions between students, and provides a place for students to experience how people can have very different writing styles. Richardson talks about how blogs "ask readers to think and to respond. They demand interaction" (Richardson, 2010, p.18). Having that interaction is so important for kids, socialization and interaction with others is exactly what kids want. Especially as they reach middle and high school, most students their main joy in school is getting to see their friends. Blogging highlights that, and with guidance from a teacher can be used to really engage students in learning. In addition blogging can allow students to learn from a greater pool of knowledge than is available within each school, because it is online and can be accessed by so many people from around the world. Blogging, especially if teachers can connect students with other students and teachers from around the globe can really expand the scope of what students are learning. Also it can be a great way for students who are usually quiet to have their voices heard without the pressure of speaking in front of the classroom. Like any form of writing, blogging can also help students think through what they are learning, and the added bonus of blogging is that then students get feedback from others about their thoughts which furthers the learning/thinking process even further.

In my own personal experience with blogging I found it to be a great tool. I went to South Africa over the summer and part of the program requirements was that we all had to keep up a blog during our time in South Africa. The topics of the blogs were left up to us, we could talk about anything we wanted really in terms of our trip. We could talk about the schools we visited, the kids we saw, the teachers we met; we could talk about the hotels we stayed at the food we ate, the things we bought, the museums and other attractions we visited, and we did. I found for me that sitting down at the end of the day to blog about what had happened that day was a great way for me to digest all that I was learning and experiencing. On the one hand it was great to be able to think through the experiences, particularly after discussions we had about race and education in South Africa, and yet at the same time let my family back home know how i was and what I was doing. So it served double for me, an educational/emotional outlet for the trip and a way to stay in communication with all my family and friends back home without having to take time to email everyone separately telling about the same things. In that blog I was also able to upload photos of what I was doing which was really nice to give it a visual component to further show what I was learning.

The only difficult aspect of blogging in my mind is assessment. We live and teach in a world where assessment is huge, and we need to have proof that students are learning and mastering whatever we are teaching at that moment. If I am allowing my students to blog in a way similar to what I did, I might find that hard to assess, because every student would come at it in a different way so how would I be able to assess if they are all learning. But I still feel that blogging is very important and useful. Maybe teachers could have different assignments at different times, some would be more strictly assessed while others were more to just practice and show thinking.


  1. Hi Heather,

    That is neat how you kept a blog while you were traveling in South Africa--what a wonderful experience that must have been for you! And of course, it also helps you to see how blogging can benefit your students and their learning experiences! I think you bring up a good point about assessment--that can be difficult. Certainly I was hoping that by creating detailed rubrics for the assignments in this course, that you would be able to potentially adapt them for your own teaching purposes. While there are many rubrics for blogging on the internet, they tend to be superficial. As with any assessment, you have to decide what the purpose of your blogging assignment would be, and write the rubric with that in mind--then you have to give the rubric to the students along with the assignment description. Many teachers hand out the assessment after the assignment, just to give a grade; however, if the students know the purpose of the assignment, and have a detailed assessment, you will get a better product because they will know what you expect, and that it is more than just "getting a grade." Great points that you make!

  2. Hi Heather,

    I also like the idea of using blogs in a classroom. I think it is a great way to make learning interesting and fun.

    As for assessing the blogs, I agree with Professor Hough. You should give students a description of the assignment and the purpose as well as a rubric that was created with the assignment's purpose in mind. Rubrics really help a teacher assess student learning. I used them a lot to help me assess projects where grades were not based on right and wrong. Also, blogs could be used as a more informal assessment. For instance, if I were to have a blog, I may require that students write about something they learned and anything they needed clarification for. Thus, instead of giving their post a grade, I would read their posts to just see how they are doing in class.

  3. Hi Heather!

    I would love to use blogs in my classroom also. Going beyond assessment purposes, I would like to use blogs for more of a reflective purpose, much in the same way as we are doing now for our class. From day to day, it is hard to keep the flow of a class. If each class had a blog to reflect on each night the students could post questions they still have, things they forgot or didn't get a chance to say in class and even talk about how the class in general went. With this feedback, the teacher could see how students were doing with the material and better prepare for the next class. Students that do have a good grasp on the material would have a chance to peer tutor or explain the information in different ways to address any misunderstandings or issues. The only potential problem that may arise with this type of blog is that it could be abused by the students, so this would have to be addressed in the beginning of the year.

  4. Hi Heather,

    I like Gemma's comment about using blogging as a reflective tool because I find myself having similar diffriculty assessing a tool like this. If it is used more for reflective purposes teachers can determine what material needs to be revisited in upcoming classes and even find holes in students understanding. At times this may call for revisiting foundamental concepts. I thought it was great that you chose to blog when you visited South Africa, and it may be possible to bring similar experiences to students by asking them to reflect on certain long term experiences while in a class. Maybe including blogs over the course of a extended project or a global issue/current event everyone is being asked to follow. My only reservation is when these tools are being offered over multiple classes and managing how much is being asked of students through reflections.